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Shell Gulf of Mexico Spill: Oops these sort of things only happen to BP!


Oops these sort of things only happen to BP!

Our dear friend Mr Voser will no doubt be miffed that in the Gulf even a well designed to his`Utopian‘ Shell standards can dare to leak.  The report today on your website states that Shell wasn’t involved in the Deepwater Horizon spill last year in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the Deepwater Nautilus rig it is currently using has the exact same design and is considered a “sister” rig of the Deepwater Horizon.

This so called sister rig that Shell is using will by implication have the same design flaws as the Deepwater Horizon. Nothing has been done by the Industry as far as I am aware to remedy this situation.

Some examples

  • the unwillingness of the operators to isolate all power supplies during a gas leak, mentioned in the previous Congressional report – because this by implication isolates the dynamic positioning thrusters and means that the emergency disconnect needs to be operated as the vessel drifts from the riser – has not been tackled by the Regulator with the implication that gas released from a well kick will enter areas where sources of ignition exist on Deepwater Nautilus as it did on Deepwater Horizon
  • the technical investigation found that there was insufficient geographic separation of the air inlets to non hazardous areas from the moon pool or drilling facilities such as the mud treatment skid
  • In 7,200 feet of water even if the BOP operates perfectly if gas from a kick has reached the surface before it is detected and is not directed overboard via the surge diverter (as was the case with Depwater Horizon) there is still sufficient gas escaping from the riser at the surface to ingress into the ventilation ducts of power generation modules et al
  • the design of the gas detection systems on Deepwater Horizon were medieval when compared to North Sea standards
  • Depwater Horizon, and by implication Nautilus, did not have what we in the North sea would recognise as a safe haven or Temporary Refuge and in general protection of safety critical systems from explosion overpressure’s was completely inadequate including escape routes to lifeboats.

To quote the latest report covered on your web-site from the New York Times re lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon.

The search for new oil and gas reserves must be part of a balanced energy policy. But the enduring lesson of the Deepwater Horizon is that complacency can easily lead to disaster. The cost of the Deepwater Horizon blowout has been huge in both lost income and natural resource damage. The ultimate tally to BP and its partners could run as high as $40 billion, with civil penalties. The inescapable bottom line is that if industry wants to keep drilling, it needs to commit fully to doing things differently. As do the regulators.

In my book it is incredibly complacent that a quarter of  century after the lessons were learned on Piper Alpha to prevent as far as was reasonably practicable gas from being ignited on the limited confines of an offshore installation Shell and others continue to use vessels which are intrinsically dangerous due to the lack of mitigation against this major accident event although they are now perfectly aware that these hazards exist. A commitment to doing things differently would be to adopt at least some of the salutary lessons learned from the deaths of 167 souls all those years ago.

Bill Campbell


A Look at Deepwater Horizon: Were the Risks For Those On Board Reasonable?

Shell’s North Sea Reputation sunk by severe corrosion

Deepwater Horizon Regulatory Failures



Violation of this court order, Shell warned, could result in the families and survivors concerned being ‘subject to bodily imprisonment: Faced with such legal harassment, even case-hardened lawyers involved in the proceedings reeled in disbelief

(SEE: Shell’s North Sea history of safety violations, blackmail and blacklisting)

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